Thomas Robinson. The 6'9" power forward who was No. 2 on many mock drafts last season is on the trading block for the second time before he even starts his second season as a professional basketball player.
During last season's draft, I was one of the biggest proponents of drafting Robinson over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with Charlotte's second pick. His insane athleticism, killer instinct at the rim, solid size and strength had me sold. He put up fantastic statistics at Kansas, and he looked like a surefire solid post threat and a terrific rebounder.
Then he was drafted into the worst position possible.
The Sacramento Kings, whose organization (even more so at the time of Robinson's acquisition) were in an absolute state of disarray. They had a surplus of bigs and little need for Robinson. Coaching was poor, management was poor and the way the team developed him was inexcusably poor.
Then he was traded to an equally awful position with the Houston Rockets.
Unlike the Kings, the Rockets were in playoff contention and also had a surplus of bigs on the roster. With the roster they already had, it became clear from the second Robinson was added to the team that he was little more than a mop-up rotation man on a team that simply didn't have the time to develop him.
It should be made clear that the Kings didn't part with Robinson because he was a bad player or a bad person, and same goes for the Rockets. He just wasn't the right fit for either team, as the Kings scramble to rebuild with their only real value being in a deep frontcourt, and the Rockets clearing cap space to make a serious bid for Dwight Howard.
By trading Robinson, the Rockets shed roughly $3.5 million.
What are the Rockets asking for in return? Not much. Nothing that can jeopardize cap space and their ambitions of acquiring Howard. After a season in which Robinson averaged only 4.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.4 blocks per game (playing in just 15.1 minutes per game), the Rockets will hardly be asking for anything significant.
A couple of future second-rounders (unguaranteed contracts), or perhaps a player with cash considerations.
Robinson did not have the minutes or the ability to develop in his rookie season.
This is a guy who many people believed would be the second overall pick in last year's draft, ended up being the fifth and performed well at the combine. He's hardly worthless, and on a team like Charlotte, which is in desperate need of talent up front, especially young talent to build around, Robinson will finally get his chance to play significant minutes and develop—especially if Patrick Ewing comes in to be an assistant with the team.
What should the Bobcats give in return for Robinson? Well, at the very most, Portland's protected first-round pick. Seems a little high, but for a top-five pick, it could be worth it. Charlotte should first submit the idea of multiple future second-rounders to entice the Rockets.
If push comes to shove, they should offer up Jeffery Taylor and cash considerations to cover his second-round salary. A straight up-and-down trade between Taylor and Robinson is more than fair, and while I love what JT brought to the team last season, Robinson was picked as high as he was for a reason.
He has the talent to be a very good power forward in this league.
Charlotte should look to re-sign power forward Josh McRoberts, who proved to be a very effective big man for the 'Cats down the stretch. McRoberts will start for the Bobcats to start the season, but plenty of minutes will be given to Robinson.
Robinson has elite athleticism and has shown signs, even in the NBA, that he can be a great defender. He will gather rebounds, and with the right coaching, he'll become the low post scorer this team doesn't have.
With Steve Clifford coming in as head coach, believing that players should be able to motivate themselves and not have others motivate them, Robinson totally fits that bill. He wants to get better, has all the physical and mental talents to become a skillful player and could eventually become the steal of a lifetime for the Bobcats/Hornets if they pull it off.
The DeMarcus Cousins speculation should be shut off, and Charlotte should be intensely focusing on acquiring T-Rob.
A starting lineup of Kemba Walker, Ben McLemore/Victor Oladipo, MKG, T-Rob and Bismack Biyombo, with Henderson coming off the bench as the sixth man, won't win too many games.
But it'll excite the fans for what's to come, and it gives the young players one more season to develop before big things are expected out of Charlotte.